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Heinrich Karl Bukowski
(1920-08-16)August 16, 1920
|Died||March 9, 1994(1994-03-09) (aged 73)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Movement||Dirty realism, transgressive fiction|
( m. 1957; div. 1959)
Linda Lee Beighle
( m. 1985)
Henry Charles Bukowski (// boo-KOW-skee; born Heinrich Karl Bukowski, German: [ˈhaɪnʁɪç ˈkaʁl buˈkɔfski]; August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) was a German–American poet, novelist, and short story writer.
His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles. His work addresses the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over 60 books. The FBI kept a file on him as a result of his column Notes of a Dirty Old Man in the LA underground newspaper Open City.
Bukowski published extensively in small literary magazines and with small presses beginning in the early 1940s and continuing on through the early 1990s. As noted by one reviewer, "Bukowski continued to be, thanks to his antics and deliberate clownish performances, the king of the underground and the epitome of the littles in the ensuing decades, stressing his loyalty to those small press editors who had first championed his work and consolidating his presence in new ventures such as the New York Quarterly, Chiron Review, or Slipstream." Some of these works include his Poems Written Before Jumping Out of an 8 Story Window, published by his friend and fellow poet Charles Potts, and better known works such as Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame. These poems and stories were later republished by John Martin's Black Sparrow Press (now HarperCollins/Ecco Press) as collected volumes of his work.
In 1986 Time called Bukowski a "laureate of American lowlife". Regarding Bukowski's enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, "the secret of Bukowski's appeal ... [is that] he combines the confessional poet's promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero."
Since his death in 1994, Bukowski has been the subject of a number of critical articles and books about both his life and writings, despite his work having received relatively little attention from academic critics in the United States during his lifetime. In contrast, Bukowski enjoyed extraordinary fame in Europe, especially in Germany, the place of his birth.
Family and early years
Bukowski was born Heinrich Karl Bukowski in Andernach, Rhine Province, Free State of Prussia, Weimar Republic (present-day Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany) to Heinrich (Henry) Bukowski, an American of German and Polish descent who had served in the U.S. army of occupation after World War I and had remained in Germany after his army service, and Katharina (née Fett). His paternal grandfather Leonard Bukowski had moved to the United States from the German Empire in the 1880s. In Cleveland, Leonard met Emilie Krause, an ethnic German, who had emigrated from Danzig, Prussia (today Gdańsk, Poland). They married and settled in Pasadena. He worked as a successful carpenter. The couple had four children, including Heinrich (Henry), Charles Bukowski's father. His mother, Katharina Bukowski, was the daughter of Wilhelm Fett and Nannette Israel. A Jewish origin of Nannette Israel is sometimes assumed, the name Israel is, however, widespread among Catholics in the Eifel region. Bukowski assumed his paternal ancestor had moved from Poland to Germany around 1780, as "Bukowski" is a Polish last name. As far back as Bukowski could trace, his whole family was German.
Bukowski's parents met in Andernach, Germany, following World War I. The poet's father was German-American and a sergeant in the United States Army serving in Germany after Germany's defeat in 1918. He had an affair with Katharina, a German friend's sister, and she became pregnant. Charles Bukowski repeatedly claimed to be born out of wedlock, but Andernach marital records indicate that his parents married one month before his birth. Afterwards, Henry Bukowski became a building contractor, set to make great financial gains in the aftermath of the war, and after two years moved the family to Pfaffendorf (today part of Koblenz). However, given the crippling postwar reparations being required of Germany, which led to a stagnant economy and high levels of inflation, Henry Bukowski was unable to make a living, so he decided to move the family to the United States. On April 23, 1923, they sailed from Bremerhaven to Baltimore, Maryland, where they settled.
The family moved to Mid-City, Los Angeles, USA in 1930, the city where Charles Bukowski's father and grandfather had previously worked and lived. Young Charles spoke English with a strong German accent and was taunted by his childhood playmates with the epithet "Heini," German diminutive of Heinrich, in his early youth. In the 1930s, the poet's father was often unemployed. In the autobiographical Ham on Rye, Charles Bukowski says that, with his mother's acquiescence, his father was frequently abusive, both physically and mentally, beating his son for the smallest imagined offense. During his youth, Bukowski was shy and socially withdrawn, a condition exacerbated during his teen years by an extreme case of acne. Neighborhood children ridiculed his German accent and the clothing his parents made him wear. In Bukowski: Born Into This, a 2003 film, Bukowski states that his father beat him with a razor strop three times a week from the ages of six to 11 years. He says that it helped his writing, as he came to understand undeserved pain. The Depression bolstered his rage as he grew, and gave him much of his voice and material for his writings.
In his early teen years, Bukowski had an epiphany when he was introduced to alcohol by his loyal friend William "Baldy" Mullinax, depicted as "Eli LaCrosse" in Ham on Rye, son of an alcoholic surgeon. "This [alcohol] is going to help me for a very long time," he later wrote, describing a method (drinking) he could use to come to more amicable terms with his own life. After graduating from Los Angeles High School, Bukowski attended Los Angeles City College for two years, taking courses in art, journalism, and literature, before quitting at the start of World War II. He then moved to New York City to begin a career as a financially pinched blue-collar worker with dreams of becoming a writer.
On July 22, 1944, with World War II ongoing, Bukowski was arrested by F.B.I. agents in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he lived at the time, on suspicion of draft evasion. At a time when the United States was at war with Germany and many Germans and German-Americans in the United States were suspected of disloyalty, his German birth troubled the US authorities. He was held for 17 days in Philadelphia's Moyamensing Prison. Sixteen days later, he failed a psychological examination that was part of his mandatory military entrance physical test and was given a Selective Service Classification of 4-F (unfit for military service).
When Bukowski was 24, his short story "Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip" was published in Story magazine. Two years later, another short story, "20 Tanks from Kasseldown", was published by the Black Sun Press in Issue III of Portfolio: An Intercontinental Quarterly, a limited-run, loose-leaf broadside collection printed in 1946 and edited by Caresse Crosby. Failing to break into the literary world, Bukowski grew disillusioned with the publication process and quit writing for almost a decade, a time that he referred to as a "ten-year drunk". These "lost years" formed the basis for his later semiautobiographical chronicles, and there are fictionalized versions of Bukowski's life through his highly stylized alter-ego, Henry Chinaski.
During part of this period he continued living in Los Angeles, working at a pickle factory for a short time but also spending some time roaming about the United States, working sporadically and staying in cheap rooming houses.
In 1955 he was treated for a near-fatal bleeding ulcer. After leaving the hospital he began to write poetry. In 1955 he agreed to marry small-town Texas poet Barbara Frye, but they divorced in 1958. According to Howard Sounes's Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life, she later died under mysterious circumstances in India. Following his divorce, Bukowski resumed drinking and continued writing poetry.
Several of his poems were published in the late 1950s in Gallows, a small poetry magazine published briefly (the magazine lasted for two issues) by Jon Griffith.
The small avant-garde literary magazine Nomad, published by Anthony Linick and Donald Factor (the son of Max Factor Jr.), offered a home to Bukowski's early work. Nomad's inaugural issue in 1959 featured two of his poems. A year later, Nomad published one of Bukowski's best known essays, Manifesto: A Call for Our Own Critics.
By 1960, Bukowski had returned to the post office in Los Angeles where he began work as a letter filing clerk, a position he held for more than a decade. In 1962, he was distraught over the death of Jane Cooney Baker, his first serious girlfriend. Bukowski turned his inner devastation into a series of poems and stories lamenting her death. In 1964 a daughter, Marina Louise Bukowski, was born to Bukowski and his live-in girlfriend Frances Smith, whom he referred to as a "white-haired hippie", "shack-job", and "old snaggle-tooth".
E.V. Griffith, editor of Hearse Press, published Bukowski's first separately printed publication, a broadside titled “His Wife, the Painter,” in June 1960. This event was followed by Hearse Press's publication of “Flower, Fist and Bestial Wail,” Bukowski's first chapbook of poems, in October 1960.
“His Wife, the Painter" and three other broadsides ("The Paper on the Floor", "The Old Man on the Corner" and "Waste Basket") formed the centerpiece of Hearse Press's "Coffin 1," an innovative small-poetry publication consisting of a pocketed folder containing 42 broadsides and lithographs which was published in 1964. Hearse Press continued to publish poems by Bukowski through the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s.
Jon and Louise Webb, publishers of The Outsider literary magazine, featured some of Bukowski's poetry in its pages. Under the Loujon Press imprint, the Webbs published Bukowski's It Catches My Heart in Its Hands in 1963 and Crucifix in a Deathhand in 1965.
Beginning in 1967, Bukowski wrote the column "Notes of a Dirty Old Man" for Los Angeles' Open City, an underground newspaper. When Open City was shut down in 1969, the column was picked up by the Los Angeles Free Press as well as the hippie underground paper NOLA Express in New Orleans. In 1969 Bukowski and Neeli Cherkovski launched their own short-lived mimeographed literary magazine, Laugh Literary and Man the Humping Guns. They produced three issues over the next two years.
Black Sparrow years
In 1969 Bukowski accepted an offer from legendary Black Sparrow Press publisher John Martin and quit his post office job to dedicate himself to full-time writing. He was then 49 years old. As he explained in a letter at the time, "I have one of two choices – stay in the post office and go crazy ... or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve." Less than one month after leaving the postal service he finished his first novel, Post Office. As a measure of respect for Martin's financial support and faith in a relatively unknown writer, Bukowski published almost all of his subsequent major works with Black Sparrow Press, which became a highly successful enterprise owing to Martin's business acumen and editorial skills. An avid supporter of small independent presses, Bukowski continued to submit poems and short stories to innumerable small publications throughout his career.
Bukowski embarked on a series of love affairs and one-night trysts. One of these relationships was with Linda King, a poet and sculptress. Critic Robert Peters reported seeing the poet as actor in Linda King's play Only a Tenant, in which she and Bukowski stage-read the first act at the Pasadena Museum of the Artist. This was a one-off performance of what was a shambolic work. His other affairs were with a recording executive and a twenty-three-year-old redhead; he wrote a book of poetry as a tribute to his love for the latter, titled, "Scarlet" (Black Sparrow Press, 1976). His various affairs and relationships provided material for his stories and poems. Another important relationship was with "Tanya", pseudonym of "Amber O'Neil" (also a pseudonym), described in Bukowski's "Women" as a pen-pal that evolved into a week-end tryst at Bukowski's residence in Los Angeles in the 1970s. "Amber O'Neil" later self-published a chapbook about the affair entitled "Blowing My Hero".
In 1976, Bukowski met Linda Lee Beighle, a health food restaurant owner, rock-and-roll groupie, aspiring actress, heiress to a small Philadelphia "Main Line" fortune and devotee of Meher Baba. Two years later Bukowski moved from the East Hollywood area, where he had lived for most of his life, to the harborside community of San Pedro, the southernmost district of the City of Los Angeles. Beighle followed him and they lived together intermittently over the next two years. They were eventually married by Manly Palmer Hall, a Canadian-born author, mystic, and spiritual teacher in 1985. Beighle is referred to as "Sara" in Bukowski's novels Women and Hollywood.
In May 1978, he returned to Germany and gave a live poetry reading of his work before an audience in Hamburg. This was released as a double 12" L.P. stereo record titled "CHARLES BUKOWSKI 'Hello. It's good to be back.'" His last international performance was in October 1979 in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was released on DVD as There's Gonna Be a God Damn Riot in Here. In March 1980 he gave his last reading at the Sweetwater club in Redondo Beach, which was released as Hostage on audio CD and The Last Straw on DVD. In 2010 the unedited versions of both The Last Straw and Riot were released as One Tough Mother on DVD.
In the 1980s, Bukowski collaborated with cartoonist Robert Crumb on a series of comic books, with Bukowski supplying the writing and Crumb providing the artwork. Through the 1990s Crumb also illustrated a number of Bukowski's stories, including the collection The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship and the story "Bring Me Your Love."
Bukowski has been published in Beloit Poetry Journal.
Death and legacy
Bukowski died of leukemia on March 9, 1994, in San Pedro, aged 73, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp. The funeral rites, orchestrated by his widow, were conducted by Buddhist monks. He is interred at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes. An account of the proceedings can be found in Gerald Locklin's book Charles Bukowski: A Sure Bet. His gravestone reads: "Don't Try", a phrase which Bukowski uses in one of his poems, advising aspiring writers and poets about inspiration and creativity. Bukowski explained the phrase in a 1963 letter to John William Corrington: "Somebody at one of these places [...] asked me: 'What do you do? How do you write, create?' You don't, I told them. You don't try. That's very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It's like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or, if you like its looks, you make a pet out of it."
Bukowski was an atheist.
Bukowski's work was subject to controversy throughout his career, and he readily admitted to admiring strong leaders such as Adolf Hitler and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Hugh Fox claimed that his sexism in poetry, at least in part, translated into his life. In 1969, Fox published the first critical study of Bukowski in The North American Review, and mentioned Bukowski's attitude toward women: "When women are around, he has to play Man. In a way it's the same kind of 'pose' he plays at in his poetry—Bogart, Eric Von Stroheim. Whenever my wife Lucia would come with me to visit him he'd play the Man role, but one night she couldn't come I got to Buk's place and found a whole different guy—easy to get along with, relaxed, accessible."
In June 2006, Bukowski's literary archive was donated by his widow to the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. Copies of all editions of his work published by the Black Sparrow Press are held at Western Michigan University, which purchased the archive of the publishing house after its closure in 2003.
Ecco Press continues to release new collections of his poetry, culled from the thousands of works published in small literary magazines. According to Ecco Press, the 2007 release The People Look Like Flowers at Last will be his final posthumous release, as now all his once-unpublished work has been made available.
Writers including John Fante, Knut Hamsun, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Ernest Hemingway, Robinson Jeffers, Henry Miller, D. H. Lawrence, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Du Fu and Li Bai are noted as influences on Bukowski's writing.
Bukowski often spoke of Los Angeles as his favorite subject. In a 1974 interview he said, "You live in a town all your life, and you get to know every bitch on the street corner and half of them you have already messed around with. You've got the layout of the whole land. You have a picture of where you are.... Since I was raised in L.A., I've always had the geographical and spiritual feeling of being here. I've had time to learn this city. I can't see any other place than L.A."
Bukowski also performed live readings of his works, beginning in 1962 on radio station KPFK in Los Angeles and increasing in frequency through the 1970s. Drinking was often a featured part of the readings, along with a combative banter with the audience. Bukowski could also be generous, for example, after a sold-out show at Amazingrace Coffeehouse in Evanston, Illinois on November 18, 1975, he signed and illustrated over 100 copies of his poem "Winter," published by No Mountains Poetry Project. By the late 1970s, Bukowski's income was sufficient to give up live readings.
One critic has described Bukowski's fiction as a "detailed depiction of a certain taboo male fantasy: the uninhibited bachelor, slobby, anti-social, and utterly free", an image he tried to live up to with sometimes riotous public poetry readings and boorish party behavior. A few critics and commentators also supported the idea that Bukowski was a cynic, as a man and a writer. Bukowski denied being a cynic, stating: "I've always been accused of being a cynic. I think cynicism is sour grapes. I think cynicism is a weakness."
Poetry editorial controversy
Over half of Bukowski's collections have been published posthumously. Posthumous collections have been known to have been 'John Martinized', with the poems having been highly tampered and edited, at a level which was not present during Bukowski's lifetime.
One example of a popular poem, "Roll the Dice" (when comparing the original manuscript to "What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire"), themes such as hell and alcoholism are removed. The creative editing present includes changing lines from "against total rejection and the highest of odds" to "despite rejection and the worst odds".
In popular culture
- US band Hot Water Music was named after Bukowski's book of the same name.
- US band Red Hot Chili Peppers reference Bukowski and his works in several songs; singer Anthony Kiedis has stated that Bukowski is a big influence on his writing.
- Fall Out Boy referenced Bukowski's novel Post Office in their unreleased song "Guilty as Charged (Tell Hip-Hop I'm Literate)".
- Arctic Monkeys lead singer Alex Turner mentions Bukowski in the song "She Looks Like Fun", from the album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.
- US band 311 reference Bukowski's alter ego "Hank Chinaski" in the song Stealing Happy Hours, from the album Transistor.
- Prior to their live sets, the post-rock band Caspian play a recording of Bukowski's poem Go All the Way as read by Tom O'Bedlam.
- In December 2020, American rock band Chain Sherlock used a sample of a Bukowski interview in their opening track "Soledad" on the album Souvenir L'Amour L'Hospital Décès.
- British-American rapper MF DOOM referred to Bukowski as inspiration for his songs, featuring a Bukowski poem in one of his songs, "Cellz", off of his 2009 album, of which the title was a reference to Bukowski's poem "Dinosauria, We": Born Like This.
- Modest Mouse included a song titled "Bukowski" on their 2004 album Good News For People Who Love Bad News.
- Harry Styles has stopped One Direction concerts to read Bukowski in 2014.
- Killer Mike mentions Bukowski in the song "Walking in the Snow" on the 2020 album RTJ4, saying he reads Noam Chomsky and Bukowski.
- Mac Miller used an excerpt from The Charles Bukowski Tapes on his song "Wedding" from his 2014 mixtape Faces.
- The Volcano Choir song "Alaskans" features a recording of Bukowski reading a poem on French television.
- "Bluebird" is claimed to be the first country song inspired by Charles Bukowski to reach Number 1.
- Hardcore punk rock band Poison Idea's 1987 album War All the Time (Poison Idea album) was named after Bukowski's eponymous book.
- A 2006 musical comedy, Bukowsical!, by Spencer Green and Gary Stockdale, pokes fun at Bukowski's life and hipster image.
- Bukowski's poem "Let It Enfold You", published in Betting on the Muse: Poems and Stories (1996), influenced the emotional 2004 Senses Fail song (and album) of the same name.
- American post-hardcore band Chiodos named their second album after one of Bukowski's books of poetry, Bone Palace Ballet.
- In 1981, the Italian director Marco Ferreri made a film, Storie di ordinaria follia (aka Tales of Ordinary Madness), loosely based on the short stories of Bukowski; Ben Gazzara played the role of Bukowski's character.
- Barfly, released in 1987, is a semi-autobiographical film written by Bukowski and starring Mickey Rourke as Henry Chinaski, who represents Bukowski, and Faye Dunaway as his lover Wanda Wilcox. Sean Penn offered to play Chinaski for one dollar as long as his friend Dennis Hopper would direct, but the European director Barbet Schroeder had invested many years and thousands of dollars in the project and Bukowski felt Schroeder deserved to make it. Bukowski wrote the screenplay, was given script approval, and appears as a bar patron in a brief cameo.
- Crazy Love is a 1987 film directed by Belgian director Dominique Deruddere. The film is based on various writings by Bukowski, in particular "The Copulating Mermaid of Venice, California".
- The 2005 film Factotum, adapted from Bukowski's 1975 novel of the same name, was released to mixed previews.
- In 2013, the actor James Franco began shooting a film adaptation of Bukowski's novel Ham on Rye. He wrote the script with his brother Dave. The adaptation began shooting in Los Angeles on January 22, 2013, with Franco directing. The film was partially shot in Oxford Square, a historic neighborhood of Los Angeles. Following a lawsuit, the film was released as Bukowski.
- Bukowski's poem "Let It Enfold You" is read by Timothée Chalamet's character in the 2018 film Beautiful Boy.
Charles Bubowski was the inspiration behind the first chapter of Mark Manson's bestselling self-help book "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK". His problems with drugs, women and alcohol despite being a bestselling writer was discussed in the chapter titled "Don't Try"- a reference to the epitaph on the author's gravestone.
- Flower, Fist, and Bestial Wail (1960)
- It Catches My Heart in Its Hands (1963) (title taken from Robinson Jeffers poem, "Hellenistics")
- Crucifix in a Deathhand (1965)
- At Terror Street and Agony Way (1968)
- Poems Written Before Jumping Out of an 8-story Window (1968)
- A Bukowski Sampler (1969)
- The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills (1969)
- Fire Station (1970)
- Mockingbird Wish Me Luck (1972), ISBN 978-0-87685-139-5
- Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame: Selected Poems 1955–1973 (1974)
- Maybe Tomorrow (1977)
- Love Is a Dog from Hell (1977), ISBN 978-0-87685-363-4
- Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit (1979), ISBN 978-0-87685-438-9
- Dangling in the Tournefortia (1981), ISBN 978-0-87685-526-3
- War All the Time: Poems 1981–1984 (1984)
- You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense (1986)
- The Roominghouse Madrigals (1988), 978-0876857335
- Septuagenarian Stew: Stories & Poems (1990)
- People Poems (1991)
- The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1992), ISBN 978-0-87685-865-3
- Betting on the Muse: Poems and Stories (1996), ISBN 978-1-57423-002-4
- Bone Palace Ballet (1998)
- What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through the Fire. (1999)
- Open All Night (2000)
- The Night Torn Mad with Footsteps (2001)
- Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line, the Way (2003), ISBN 978-0-06-052735-8
- The Flash of the Lightning Behind the Mountain (2004)
- Slouching Toward Nirvana (2005)
- Come on In! (2006)
- The People Look Like Flowers at Last (2007)
- The Pleasures of the Damned: Selected Poems 1951–1993 (2007), ISBN 978-0-06-122843-8
- The Continual Condition (2009)
- On Cats (2015)
- On Love (2016)
- Storm for the Living and the Dead (2017), ISBN 978-0-06-265652-0
Short story chapbooks and collections
- Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live with Beasts (1965)
- All the Assholes in the World and Mine (1966)
- Notes of a Dirty Old Man (1969)
- Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions, and General Tales of Ordinary Madness (1972) ISBN 978-0-87286-061-2
- South of No North (1973), ISBN 978-0-87685-190-6
- Hot Water Music (1983)
- Bring Me Your Love (1983)
- Tales of Ordinary Madness (1983)
- The Most Beautiful Woman in Town (1983)
- Prying (with Jack Micheline and Catfish McDaris) (1997) ASIN: B000I92IS0
- Portions from a Wine-stained Notebook: Short Stories and Essays (2008) ISBN 978-0-87286-492-4.
- Absence of the Hero (2010)
- More Notes of a Dirty Old Man (2011)
- The Bell Tolls For No One (CityLights, 2015 edition)
- On Drinking (2019)
- Shakespeare Never Did This (1979); expanded (1995)
- The Bukowski/Purdy Letters (1983)
- Screams from the Balcony: Selected Letters (1993)
- Living on Luck: Selected Letters, vol. 2 (1995)
- The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship (1998), ISBN 978-1-57423-059-8
- Reach for the Sun: Selected Letters, vol. 3 (1999)
- Beerspit Night and Cursing: The Correspondense of Charles Bukowski and Sheri Martinelli (2001)
- Sunlight here I am: Interviews and encounters, 1963–1993 (2003)
- On Writing Edited by Abel Debritto (2015), ISBN 978-0-06-241740-4
- The Mathematics of the Breath and the Way: On Writers and Writing Edited by David Stephen Calonne (City Lights, 2018) ISBN 978-0-87286-759-8
- At Terror Street and Agony Way, Open reel tape, 1968
- Poetry – Charles Bukowski, Steven Richmond, LP, 1968
- A Cold Turkey Press Special, LP, 1972
- Totally Corrupt, The Dial-A-Poem Poets, LP, 1976
- 90 Minutes in Hell, LP, 1977
- Hello. It's good to be back., LP, 1978
- Bukowski Reads His Poetry, LP, 1980
- Voices of the Angels, LP, 1982
- English As A Second Language, LP, 1983
- Neighborhood Rhythms, LP, 1984
- Cassette Gazette, Cassette, 1985
- Hostage, LP 1985
- Movable Feast #3, Cassette, 1986
- The Charles Bukowski Tapes, VHS, 1987
- Bukowski at Bellevue, VHS, 1988
- Beat Scene Magazine #12, Flexi-disc, 1991
- Hostage, CD, 1994
- King of Poets, CD, 1995
- 70 Minutes in Hell, CD, 1997
- At Terror Street and Agony Way, CD, 1998
- Run with the Hunted, Cassette, 1998
- Charles Bukowski: Uncensored, CD, 2000
- Born Into This, DVD, 2003
- Bukowski at Bellevue, DVD, 2004
- Bukowski Reads His Poetry, CD, 2004
- Bukowski Reads His Poetry, CD, 2004
- Poems and Insults, CD, 2004
- Solid Citizen, CD, 2004
- 12 Great Americans, CD, 2006
- The Charles Bukowski Tapes, DVD, 2006
- Bukowski at Baudelaire's, mp3, 2007 (not commercially released)
- Underwater Poetry Festival, CD, 2007
- Hello. It's good to be back., CD, 2008
- Poetry of Charles Bukowski, CDR, 2008
- There's Gonna Be a God Damn Riot in Here, DVD, 2008
- The Last Straw, DVD, 2008
- One Tough Mother, DVD, 2010
- Bukowski at the San Francisco Museum of Art, Cassette, 2010
- Bukowski at the San Francisco Museum of Art, VHS tape 2010
- Thomas Schmitt film, 1978 Hamburg reading, mp4, 2015 (not commercially released)
Film and screenplays
- Bukowski at Bellevue 1970 (1995) – Poetry Reading
- Bukowski 1973 – Californian KCET TV Documentary
- Supervan 1977 – Feature Film (Not based on Bukowski's work but Bukowski had cameo appearance as Wet T-shirt Contest Water Boy)
- There's Gonna Be a God Damn Riot in Here – Filmed: 1979; DVD Release: 2008 – Poetry Reading
- The Last Straw – Filmed: 1980; DVD Release: 2008 – Poetry Reading
- Tales of Ordinary Madness – Feature Film
- Poetry in Motion (film), a documentary film (1982)
- Barfly 1987 – Feature Film
- Crazy Love 1987 – Feature Film (Belgium)
- The Ordinary Madness of Charles Bukowski (1995), (BBC documentary).
- Bukowski: Born Into This 2002 – Biographical Documentary
- Factotum 2005 – Feature Film
- The Suicide 2006 – Short film
- One Tough Mother 2010 Released on DVD – Poetry Reading
- Mermaid of Venice 2011 – Short film
- Charles Bukowski's Nirvana 2013 – Short film
- Sitting on a Fire Escape Eating Eggs 2015 – Short film
- Charles Bukowski's influence on popular culture
- Bukowski (1973 film)
- Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Bukowski is featured in the introduction.
- Dobozy, Tamas (2001). "In the Country of Contradiction the Hypocrite is King: Defining Dirty Realism in Charles Bukowski's Factotum". Modern Fiction Studies. 47: 43–68. doi:10.1353/mfs.2001.0002. S2CID 170828985.
- "Charles Bukowski (criticism)". Enotes.com. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
- Donnelly, Ben. "The Review of Contemporary Fiction: Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life by Howard Sounces". Dalkey Archive Press at the University of Illinois. Archived from the original on October 11, 2008.
- "Bukowski, Charles". Columbia University Press.
- "Charles Bukowski FBI files". bukowski.net.
- Keeler, Emily (September 9, 2013). "The FBI kept its own notes on 'dirty old man' Charles Bukowski". Los Angeles Times.
- "Charles Bukowski, King of the Underground From Obscurity to Literary Icon". Palgrave Macmillan.
- Iyer, Pico (June 16, 1986). "Celebrities Who Travel Well". Time. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
- Kirsch, Adam (March 14, 2005). "Smashed". The New Yorker.
- Charles Bukowski (2009) Barry Miles. Random House, 2009, ISBN 978-0-7535-2159-5[page needed]
- Neeli Cherkovski: Das Leben des Charles Bukowski. München 1993, p. 18-20.
- Martinez, Al (January 7, 2008). "Do we need to admire Charles Bukowski to honor his poetry?". Los Angeles Times.
- Charles Bukowski US-Schrifsteller aus Andernach, Eifel-Zeitung, August 16, 2016 (in German)
- Elisa Leonelli, "Charles Bukowski: "It's humanity that bothers me.", Cultural Weekly, August 4, 2015.
- Sounes, Howard. Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life, p. 8
- Kudler, Adrian Glick (May 26, 2015). "Charles Bukowski's Famous Childhood Home in Mid-City LA is For Sale". Curbed LA.
- Bukowski, Charles (1982). Ham on Rye. Ecco. ISBN 0-06-117758-X.
- Young, Molly. "Poetry Foundation of America. Bukowski Profile". Poetryfoundation.org. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
- "Bukowski, Charles (1920–1994)". Routledge.
- "Sheaf, Hearse, Coffin, Poetry NOW" by E.V. Griffith (Hearse Press, 1996), pp. 23
- Debritto (2013), p.90.
- Bukowski, Charles Run with the hunted: a Charles Bukowski reader, Edited by John Martin (Ecco, 2003), pp. 363–365
- "Sheaf, Hearse, Coffin, Poetry NOW" by E.V. Griffith (Hearse Press, 1996), pp. 30, 32
- "Introduction to Charles Bukowski by Jay Dougherty". Jaydougherty.com. August 16, 1920. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
- Charles Bukowski – Criticism. BookRags.
- Sounes, Howard. Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life. Grove Press, 1998. 275.
- Ciotti, Paul. (March 22, 1987) Los Angeles Times Bukowski: He's written more than 40 books, and in Europe he's treated like a rock star. He has dined with Norman Mailer and goes to the race track with Sean Penn. Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway are starring in a movie based on his life. At 66, poet Charles Bukowski is suddenly in vogue. Section: Los Angeles Times Magazine; p12.
- "Charles Bukowski: There's Gonna Be a God Damn Riot in Here! Live in Vancouver (1979) – Trailers, Reviews, Synopsis, Showtimes and Cast". AllMovie. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
- "Charles Bukowski: The Last Straw (1980) – Trailers, Reviews, Synopsis, Showtimes and Cast". AllMovie. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
- Popova, Maria. "R. Crumb Illustrates Bukowksi" www.brainpickings.org. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
- "For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can't readily accept the God formula, the big answers don't remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command or faith a dictum. I am my own God. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state and our education system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us."--Charles Bukowski, Life (magazine), December 1988, quoted from James A. Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief.
- Fox, Hugh (1969). "Hugh Fox: The Living Underground: Charles Bukowski". The North American Review. 254 (3): 57–58. JSTOR 25117001.
- "The People Look Like Flowers At Last: New Poems". March 9, 1994. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
- Hemmingson, Michael (October 9, 2008). The Dirty Realism Duo: Charles Bukowski & Raymond Carver. Borgo Press. pp. 70, 71. ISBN 978-1-4344-0257-8.
- Charlson, David (July 6, 2006). Charles Bukowski: Autobiographer, Gender Critic, Iconoclast. Trafford Publishing. p. 30. ISBN 1-4120-5966-6.
- "Excerpt from letter from Bukowski to Carl Weissner – included in ""Living on Luck Selected Letters 1960s – 1970s Volume 2"", page 276". Bukowskilive.com. Archived from the original on July 7, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
- "Boston Review". Archived from the original on February 12, 2012.
- "a view of humanity that is cynical" https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2007/sep/05/bukowski "is well known for his cynicism" https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/california/articles/an-introduction-to-charles-bukowski-in-8-poems/ "raw, cynical, pockmarked poet" http://www.prrb.ca/articles/issue02-bukowski.htm "cynical, sharp-minded and grounded" https://charles-bukowski.quillsliteracy.org/charles-bukowski-love-poems/ "Ι am quite the cynic I would fall in love with Bukowski as he has the same dark, twisted view on life" http://renemullen.com/book-review-ham-on-rye-by-charles-bukowski/ "He came by his nihilism and cynicism" http://brianoverland.com/2014/03/16/writing-in-california-bukowski-vs-moody/ "cynic, sarcastic, pessimistic and disillusioned" http://www.merchantsofair.com/a-small-neat-journal/charles-bukowski-the-dirty-old-man "is one of the most cynical authors" https://sites.psu.edu/caradorercl1314/2014/03/26/this-bukowski/comment-page-1/ "His work is abrasive, honest and cynical" https://www.spectatornews.com/scene/2008/04/17/in-review-ham-on-rye/ "a cynical critic" https://www.123helpme.com/charles-bukowski-cynical-critic-preview.asp?id=216091
- ON CYNICISM: https://bukowski.net/poems/int2.php
- "The Senseless, Tragic Rape of Charles Bukowski's Ghost by John Martin's Black Sparrow Press". mjp Books Blog. June 18, 2013.
- "Charles Bukowski poem manuscript: Roll the Dice".
- "What about 'Roll the Dice'?". Charles Bukowski – American author.
- “Dinosauria, We” by Charles Bukowski Archived June 11, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- Golembewski, Vanessa. "Harry Styles Reads Bukowski – One Direction Boston". www.refinery29.com.
- "Volcano Choir". Pitchfork.
- Willman, Chris (July 27, 2020). "Miranda Lambert on Finally Reclaiming the No. 1 Spot With 'Bluebird': 'I Knew I Was Delivering Great Music'".
- Morgan, Terry (March 19, 2006). "Bukowsical!". Variety.
- "Charles Bukowski poem and story database, book: Betting on the Muse". bukowski.net.
- Then & Now (DVD). Vagrant. 2004.
- "Big-Screen Time for Bukowski : 'Love Is a Dog' and 'Barfly' Put Hard-Living Poet in the Limelight". Los Angeles Times. November 3, 1987. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
- "Factotum (2005)". www.rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
- "Oscar's press release. Ham on rye" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 30, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
- Richard Verrier (February 13, 2013). "'Bukowski' plays role in modest rise for local film production". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
- "Beautiful Boy (2018)". Screenplayed. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
- Phillips, Michael. "Charles Bukowski works database – recordings listed by release date". bukowski.net.
- TheExpatriate700 (November 5, 2010). "Bukowski at Bellevue (1995)". IMDb.
- The ordinary madness of Charles Bukowski. worldcat.org. OCLC 69162412.
- "Bookmark". bbc.co.uk. No. 3713. March 16, 1995. p. 64.
- "Charles Bukowski's Nirvana (2013)". IMDb. January 1, 2013.
- Sitting on a Fire Escape Eating Eggs (Charles Bukowski Short Film). Vimeo.
- "Sitting on a Fire Escape Eating Eggs (2015)". IMDb. May 10, 2015.
- Glenn Esterly/Abe Frajndlich (2020). Bukowski. The shooting. By Abe Frajndlich. Hirmer Publishers. ISBN 978-3-7774-3667-8.
- Miles, Barry (2005). Charles Bukowski. Virgin Books. ISBN 978-1-85227-271-5.
- Brewer, Gay (1997). Charles Bukowski: Twayne's United States Authors Series. ISBN 0-8057-4558-0.
- Charlson, David (2005). Charles Bukowski: Autobiographer, Gender Critic, Iconoclast. Trafford Press. ISBN 978-1-41205-966-4.
- Cherkovski, Neeli (1991). Hank: The Life of Charles Bukowski. ISBN 3-87512-235-6.
- Dorbin, Sanford (1969). A Bibliography of Charles Bukowski, Black Sparrow Press.
- Duval Jean-François (2002). Bukowski and the Beats followed by An Evening at Buk's Place: an Interview with Charles Bukowski. Sun Dog Press. ISBN 0-941543-30-7.
- Fogel, Al (2000). Charles Bukowski: A Comprehensive Price Guide & Checklist, 1944–1999.
- Fox, Hugh (1969). Charles Bukowski: A Critical and Bibliographical Study.
- Harrison, Russell (1994). Against The American Dream: Essays on Charles Bukowski. ISBN 0-87685-959-7.
- Krumhansl, Aaron (1999). A Descriptive Bibliography of the Primary Publications of Charles Bukowski. Black Sparrow Press. ISBN 1-57423-104-9.
- Pleasants, Ben (2004). Visceral Bukowski.
- Sounes, Howard (1998). Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life. ISBN 0-8021-1645-0.
- Wood, Pamela (2010). Charles Bukowski's Scarlet. Sun Dog Press. ISBN 978-0-941543-58-3.
- Roni (2020). Charles Bukowski Timeline. A special publication of the Charles-Bukowski-Society in cooperation with bukowski.net & Michael J. Phillips. MaroVerlag. ISBN 978-3-87512-323-4.
- Bukowski.net – Bibliography, manuscripts, poem database, discussion forum
- Works by or about Charles Bukowski in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Charles Bukowski at IMDb
- Works by Charles Bukowski, cataloged by WorldCat
- Timeline of Bukowski's life and publications at "the world's premiere Charles Bukowski website and discussion forum"
- Profile, Bibliography, and poems at Poetry Foundation
- Profile and poems at Poets.org
- "Hanging with Bukowski at the Gotlieb Center". BU Today. Boston University March 26, 2009
- Guide to the Charles Bukowski Manuscript. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California.
- "Bukowski Comes to Wormwood", The Wormwood Review 1985
- "Mickey Rourke plays a tough barfly". Interview with Bukowski February 10, 1987. Chicago Sun Times
- 13 August 2000 Bukowski profile (audio, 11 mins) NPR.
- "Smashed:The pulp poetry of Charles Bukowski" by Adam Kirsch at The New Yorker March 14, 2005
- HarperCollins profile, timeline and resources Archived February 10, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
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